Home FashionClothing Threads of Tradition, Weaving Chikankari Tale

Threads of Tradition, Weaving Chikankari Tale

by Vibha S
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Chikankari, also known as Chikan embroidery, is a traditional form of hand-embroidery that originates from the city of Lucknow in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is renowned for its intricate and delicate white-on-white or light-colored thread work on fine fabrics like muslin, silk, chiffon, and more. This embroidery style is characterized by its exquisite floral patterns, intricate motifs, and fine stitches, which are often combined to create elegant and timeless designs.

Chikankari is believed to have been introduced in Lucknow during the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir (early 17th century). However, it gained significant popularity and refinement during the reign of his successor, Emperor Akbar. It is said that the emperor was impressed by the embroidery and craftsmanship of the artisans, leading to the promotion and development of chikankari.

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Chikankari embroidery involves a variety of stitches, including the “backstitch,” “shadow work,” “stem stitch,” and “chain stitch,” among others. The designs can range from simple and subtle to highly detailed and complex, and they are often inspired by nature, including flowers, birds, and other natural elements.

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The embroidery is traditionally done by skilled artisans, and it’s a labor-intensive process that requires precision and patience. Chikankari products include sarees, suits, kurtas, dupattas (scarves), and other clothing items, as well as home textiles like bedspreads and tablecloths.

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The piece begins with one or more pattern blocks that are used to block-print a pattern on the ground fabric. The embroiderer stitches the pattern, and the finished piece is carefully washed to remove all traces of the printed pattern.The process of chikankari includes the following steps:

  • Design
  • Engraving
  • Block printing
  • Embroidery
  • Washing and finishing

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Chikankari has not only remained a prominent part of Indian textile heritage but has also gained recognition internationally for its beauty and craftsmanship. Over time, the traditional style has evolved to incorporate contemporary elements and colors, making it appealing to a wider audience.

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